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Union Says Talks Between AFTRA and Networks Have Broken Down

July 22, 1986

NEW YORK (AP) _ Negotiations between the three major television networks and the union representing news broadcasters stalled after the companies demanded that the newspeople assume technical duties, a union official said.

Talks broke down Monday and no further meetings were scheduled with representatives of ABC, CBS and NBC and their owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, said John C. Hall, chief negotiator for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, AFL- CIO.

″What the companies are demanding ... is the right to assign any newsperson not only to write and broadcast a story, but to operate the cameras, sound and other equipment, edit the story, feed it to broadcast stations and satellites and, in short, perform any and all technical and other functions in any way related to the assignment,″ Hall said. He said such duties are now handled by five or more people.

James Sirmon, vice president of industrial relations and personnel at CBS, disagreed with Hall’s assessment of negotiations.

″We have made a series of proposals in the technological area, yes, that is true, but I would question the characterization as a breakdown,″ Sirmon said. ″It’s more of an interruption.″

The contract, which covers approximately 700 newscasters, expired Nov. 16. Negotiations have recessed several times since.

Other key issues include job security, severance pay and past management of the pension and welfare fund, both sides said.

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